The 1980s TV crime drama hunter featured an eponymous main character who popularized the catchphrase “It works for me”. Today’s crime drama surrounding Hunter Biden evokes another repeated utterance: “Who Hunter Worked For?”
The troubled presidential scion is making headlines again and raising questions about his father, President Joe Biden. This unwanted attention has also renewed questions about the media’s relative lack of interest in young Biden’s highly questionable business interests in the 2020 presidential election.
Last week, Politics reported: “The New York Times is still digging into Hunter Biden’s business dealings. The Gray Lady sued the State Department for emails about Hunter Biden that were sent or received by the US Embassy in Romania. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, these new emails reveal.
Although he garnered more attention on the right than in the mainstream media, last September Politics journalist Ben Schreckinger, author of The Bidens, confirmed the validity of some of the controversial emails that surfaced during the 2020 campaign, including an email with a Chinese oil executive, referring to stocks to hold for “the big one.” (The big guy was Joe Biden, according to the recipient, Tony Bobulinskya Hunter’s business partner.)
Schreckinger also confirmed an email involving a Ukrainian business executive thanking Hunter for introducing him to his father at dinner the previous night. (Joe Biden’s team denies the meeting.)
Meanwhile, the conservative media are mounting the pressure. Fox Nation is currently airing a four-part series titled Who is Hunter Bidenand author Peter Schweizer just released a new book called In the actWho alleges that the Biden family “received some $31 million from Chinese individuals linked to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence.” One such person, according to Schweizer, was investor Che Fung, who is referred to in the emails by Hunter Biden as the “super president.” Schweizer has also alleges that “Hunter Biden was paying his dad’s bills with foreign money…”
If true, these revelations significantly move the story of garden variety corruption (Hunter Biden trading under his father’s name) to something far more nefarious.
But how reliable are Schweizer’s reports? On the one hand, he is the president of a think tank co-founded by Steve Bannon and is, like The Guardian reports, “part of the right-wing ecosystem”. His conveniently timed book Clinton Treasury (published in 2015), raised legitimate questions about Bill and Hillary Clinton, but also included omissions and errors.
On the other hand, Schweizer’s 2011 book throw them all away took hits from both sides, and it sparked a 60 minutes segment on how members of Congress take advantage of insider information (which led to the creation of the STOCK Act).
In short, Schweizer’s books often reveal important and overlooked information, but his motives are suspect. This raises a question: rather than outsourcing this investigative work to Schweizer (whose goal is to feed its reporting to the mainstream media), shouldn’t the media simply do this work themselves?
Some, like Politics’s Schreckinger and The New York Times‘ Ken Vogel, have spent a considerable amount of time doing just that. But let’s be honest, if this was another president’s son, the coverage would have been blistering.
Even without these post-election revelations and allegations, there was still an appearance of impropriety. We know Hunter was paid a lot of money sit on the board of directors of a Ukrainian gas company, apparently without ever visiting Ukraine and without any discernible expertise in the field of energy. And it turns out that his father was the point man there for the Obama administration.
We also now know that Hunter became an artist, with some of his paintings fetching over $500,000.
There’s a lot of juicy stuff here. So why didn’t this get the coverage it could have deserved before Joe Biden was elected president? On the one hand, Donald Trump and his family have raised the bar for what qualifies as a newsworthy scandal, especially when it comes to taking advantage of the presidency.
And, to be honest, there were several red flags. The way back May 2019it was reported that Rudy Giuliani was Planning to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden in Ukraine. We also know that in a phone call in July 2019, Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to work with Giuliani on this project.
There was the not implausible suggestion that this “October surprise” (the release of Hunter Biden’s emails) might be Russian disinformation (like former Intel officials said).
Fueling further skepticism, the email story was first published in a tabloid, the New York Postand one of the reporters declined to have his signature included in the story, while another reporter only discovered that his signature had been included after the story was published.
Serious mistakes were also made by Trump and his allies. The original plan was to have the the wall street journal break down the history of the email. But Trump scared them off by boasting that they were working on “an important piece.” Giuliani also scooped up their reporting by leaking documents to the New York Post— and Bobulinski, Hunter Biden’s former partner turned Trump campaign witness, grew tired of waiting and presented his case to Breitbart.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden continued to defend his son and vehemently deny any wrongdoing. I suspect there was also a natural reluctance to go after members of the Biden family, especially given the tragedies they endured.
I just explained why the story didn’t get the attention it probably deserved in 2020, but what will it in the future? By suing the State Department, The New York Times signaled that they are seriously considering investigating the new Hunter Biden revelations. It’s a good start.
The media and investigative journalists must pursue new allegations and leads aggressively, no matter where it takes them. They shouldn’t let their fear or dislike of Trump guide their reporting.
Media credibility is at stake. And in the unlikely event that (as Schweizer’s reporting suggests) Joe Biden is compromised by a foreign government, the stakes are much higher than that.